New Uses for Old Things: 10 Ways to Repurpose Old Items

Our landfills are growing by the second — but there’s plenty that we can do to help, while also adding some extra functionality or style in our homes! Find decorating inspiration in these five unique ways to reuse items you already have. Mother Nature will be pleased.

Bottle Beauties

Instead of tossing empty glass wine, beer or soda bottles, take a look at them from a different angle. Many bottles have a beautiful shape or color, and could easily stand alone as decorative vases. For a modern look, consider painting the exterior of a bottle in a color that matches your home décor.

If your bottle has a label, soak it in hot sudsy water (use dishwashing detergent) for 5 or more minutes until the label becomes soft. Gently peel it away; use a scrub brush to remove any leftover residue. Before use, clean the insides of the bottles too — fill ¾ with warm water and a bit of dishwashing liquid. Cover the bottle with your finger or hand and give it a good shake. Rinse until the suds are gone and place upside down on a towel or dish rack to dry.

On a Roll

Empty toilet paper rolls are tossed in the trash faster than you can flush. Give them a new shot at life by using them to organize and store extra cords (the ones you’re not sure what they go to but you’re too afraid to toss them) to keep them from getting tangled. Wind a single cord into each empty paper roll and store side by side, standing up in a shoebox.

Book It

Do you have a pile of old books that you can’t bring yourself to get rid of but are just gathering dust? Opt for this unique idea: Purchase shelf brackets that are slightly smaller than the width of your favorite hardback books (from spine to opening). Secure the bracket to the wall and place the book on the bracket to create a decorative shelf. Stagger a few favorite tomes in a cohesive display and top with bud vases or small decorative items.

Display Case

Do you have an old cutlery tray that no longer has any use? Line the inside of the tray with pretty fabric or paper scraps — or paint it a favorite color. Attach small cabinet knobs and/or tiny hooks within each segment of the tray and use them to hang and organize favorite necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

Mad About Mason

Empty mason jars have so many reuses you might find yourself overwhelmed with the options. Here are some of our favorites:

•      Fill the jar part way with sand or rocks and top with a tea light candle. A grouping of these beauties will provide lovely candlelight for an intimate gathering.

•      Use them as single bud vases, grouping three or more together for extra effect.

•      Use them as drinking glasses at backyard BBQs — and save the planet from more tossed-aside plastic cups.

•      Store useful items such as sewing kits, colored pencils, ribbons, office supplies or any other items you find yourself stashing away in your junk drawer. The clear view allows you to easily see what’s inside so nothing ever feels too lost.

•      Create a hanging vase or candle holder: Wrap sturdy wire around the opening of the jar (under a ridge so it’s secure). Then use another piece of wire to wrap through that first wire at two points to create a handle. Hang from a wall or garden hook and fill with flowers or a tea light candle.

Bonus Round!

Looking for even more ideas? Try these five quick-and-easy reuse ideas for everyday items:

•      Turn old picture frames into cute little serving trays.

•      Use old shower hooks to hang purses in your closet.

•      An old hanging shoe rack can easily organize your pantry. Hang it on the door and separate snacks or spices in the pockets.

•      Need more jewelry organization? Use a cupcake tray to hold small items.

•      Use large clamp binder clips to keep computer and phone charger cords handy. Clip them to the edge of your desk and pull the cord end through the metal clamp hole.

A Guide to Paint Finishes: From Flat to Fabulously Glossy

Flat, eggshell, satin, gloss: When it comes to interior décor, there are a lot of confusing terms, but at least the names for paint finishes are fairly straightforward. Even the most novice painter can guess what’s what.

Flat (or matte) is a smooth surface without luster. Eggshell resembles its namesake. Satin has a subtle sheen reminiscent of the popular fabric. And gloss is, well, glossy.

When shopping for paints you’re faced with the inevitable question: What finish? To sheen or not to sheen? But there’s so much more behind choosing a paint finish than just their names. Some finishes work better than others in high-traffic areas. Some hide imperfections that are common in older buildings. And others add extra pizazz for home décor projects.

The next time you’re choosing paint finishes, use this user-friendly paint-finish guide — with some expert input courtesy of international color expert and designer Maria Killam — to help you find your perfect paint.

A QUICK-REFERENCE GUIDE TO PAINT FINISHES

The Finish: Flat (aka Matte)

· The Basics: Lacking any sheen whatsoever, flat paint is light-absorbing with a smooth finish. The flat paint finish hides imperfections but also holds dirt and is difficult to clean — rubbing it with cleanser may even damage the finish.

· The Use: Living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, hallways and ceilings. “If you have walls with a lot of imperfections, flat hides them,” Killam says. “And ceilings should be flat for that same reason.”

· Good to Know: It’s a good idea to keep extra paint on hand to touch up nicks and scratches in flat finishes.

The Finish: Eggshell (aka Low-Luster)

· The Basics: This low-sheen paint finish resembles the shell of an egg (so, no, the name is not a coincidence). Eggshell paint absorbs light just like its flat counterpart above. It’s best used in lower-traffic areas, and is easier to clean than flat.

· The Use: Living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, entryways, hallways and trims. “I like walls to have a little shine, so I always specify eggshell for the main rooms in a house, hallways, living and family rooms,” Killam says.

The Finish: Satin (aka Pearl, with certain paint brands)

· The Basics: A subtle finish with a soft sheen that reflects light. This is one of the most versatile finishes as it falls in the middle of the spectrum. It can be wiped clean with ease, making it ideal for active areas.

· The Use: Kitchens, dining rooms, children’s bedrooms, guest or powder baths, laundry rooms, trims, doors and shutters. “Satin is great for bathrooms and kitchens thanks to its high scrub-ability,” Killam says.

The Finish: Semigloss

· The Basics: A step up in sheen from satin, semigloss paint finish reflects more light. It can be scrubbed to keep clean, so it’s a great choice in areas with high traffic.

· The Use: Kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, cabinets, doors, trims and moldings. “If you are using latex paint for trim and doors, a higher sheen will give you more durability,” Killam says.

The Finish: Gloss

· The Basics: Gloss paint finishes come with a smooth, high-shine sheen. (Opt for high-gloss paint for the light-reflecting extreme of paint finishes.) Gloss can be scrubbed clean without concern for the finish, so it’s ideal for areas that most often require washing.

· The Use: Kitchens, baths, trims, woodwork, moldings, doors and cabinets. “If you opt to use a high-gloss finish to create an interesting sheen effect, such as on a ceiling or powder room,” Killam says, “spray it on to prevent roller or brush marks in the final finish.”

Interior Painting Tips

Let’s face it, painting is tedious, messy business but we do it anyway because it protects our walls, cabinets and furniture. Giving the interior of your home a new glossy (or matte) finish is essential to the upkeep and appeal of your home, but properly executed painting projects should be given the time and planning it deserves. So, here are our top tips on surviving a painting project.

Sampling and Testing

Go down to your local paint store and get some small cans of samples, some brushes and and some squares. The store can mix these sample paint colors for you if you ask them. For each room you want to paint, create 5 or 6 closely related but different shades of you color and hold them up on the wall. Invite a friend to come help you by offering a second opinion, because you really really want to get this right the first time. There are fewer things more frustrating than finishing a pain job only to realize that you picked the wrong color. There are various online tools you can use by uploading photos of your room. Obviously this approach won’t work with furniture, but it will for cabinets. If you’re unsure about it, keep trying new ideas and samples. This isn’t a race.

Preparation and More Preparation

They say prep is the most important part of a paining project, and that’s be cause it is. You’re going to need plastic covers, tape, rollers, brushes, sand paper, scrapers, blades, screw drivers, drills and probably a few other items. Take you time getting your job prepped, you’ll thank yourself later. Clean and sand surfaces with a fine sandpaper so that any loose paint or bumps on the surface get smoothed out.

Water or Oil Based?

Opinions on this have changed over the years, and most DIYers like water or latex based paint because it is easier to apply, doesn’t give off a strong odor, is easier than oil to clean up, and offers the same level of quality and protection. Water based paint is suitable for general painting for walls and ceilings. Oil or acrylic based paint is messy, smells very strong, is hard to clean if it gets on the wrong surface, is generally more difficult to apply and takes longer to dry. But, many experience decorators and painters will tell you that in some cases, it is worth the trouble to use oil. Those cases are:

  1. When you’re applying paint to an older layer of oil paint. A new coat of oil based paint will will adhere better to an existing layer of old oil based paint.
  2. You’ve got a new piece of wood furniture with no finishing, that requires extra protection and appeal. Oil and acrylic pain will last longer and provide long and better protection over the years.
  3. Any item you really want to paint only once. Oil based paint is more durable than water based paint.

Application

Always choose the right brush or roller for your pain job. While it might not sound very important, the brush and roller you use are key to getting the final finish you want. For walls and ceilings you’ll be using water based paint, so use rollers and brushes designed for water based paint. The same principle applies for trim and oil based paint, though you’ll pay more for oil paint brushes. Ask your paint store if you have questions about what to use.

Clean-Up

As we mentioned in the beginning of this guide, proper preparation will help you cut down on excessive clean-up. Paint inevitably gets on surfaces where it doesn’t belong, and if it’s water based, cleaning it up won’t be too much trouble. But if you’ve done your prep work correctly, unwanted drip and marks should be minimal. One of the reason oil paint isn’t used much anymore is because of its toxicity and threat to environment. Depending on where you live, there are recycling and disposal options for leftover paint and chemical. Here is more information about the proper disposal of hazardous household waste (HHW) from the EPA. Or, even better donate your excess supplies to a local charity. They’ll appreciate the donation and you’ll feel better about the impact you project has on landfills and the environment.

Summary

Take your time in planning for and preparing for your indoor painting project. You’ll love the results, hopefully stay withing your budget, and enjoy your newly renovated living space.

 

Easy Project Ideas – What To Do With Leftover Paint

An easy project idea is using a bulk of leftover paint to spruce up your home with some color? These five easy paint project ideas (plus some bonus inspiration) will give your leftover paint some purpose — and give a room a fresh look to boot. (One gallon = 4 quarts or 8 pints.)


 

 

Paint project idea No. 1: Use a full gallon of leftover paint to …
Create an interesting wainscoting effect by painting the lower half of the wall around a room with a contrasting or complementary hue. Use painter’s tape to make a clean line, or use a rag or dry brush to blur the edges between the two colors for a funkier, more artistic finish.


 

 

Paint project idea No. 2: Use a couple of quarts of paint to …
Rehab old wooden or metal furniture. Keep an eye out for wood rockers, kitchen chairs, vintage bureaus, washstands or small tables at flea markets and yard sales. With a fresh coat of paint, these pieces can be a simple way to add personality to a room.


 

Paint project idea No. 3: Use a quart of paint to …

Paint the inside of a cabinet, armoire, closet or even drawers for an unexpected pop of color when the doors are opened. Bonus: Using a light color makes it easier to see into the back corners.


 

Paint project idea No. 4: Use a pint or two of paint to …
With painter’s tape and a ruler, create a graphic mural of squares, rectangles or triangles. Also try painting square wood panels to add a pop art element to any room.


 

Paint project idea No. 5: Use remnants of leftover paint to …
Unleash your inner artist. Use the remnants of a can of paint to make a few bold strokes on craft paper or poster board. Or try your hand at spin art using a spin art machine. Sign and frame!

Want more fun DIY paint project ideas? Try these! If you have …

A gallon of paint:

  • Paint an accent wall to act as a focal point for a room or define a space.
  • Brighten a narrow or dark hallway with a vivid hue.

A quart or two of paint:

  • Paint a 4-inch-wide chair rail around a room to create an accent. (The rule of thumb is to paint it about one-third of the way up from the floor.)
  • Paint a faux headboard for your bed. Keep it simple with a rectangular shape, or add drama with an elegant arched top.

A pint or two of leftover paint:

  • Paint the inside of a metal medicine cabinet with a bright, cheery hue.
  • Paint just the drawer facades of a bureau for an unexpected pop.
  • Paint the edges of a bookcase to add definition and make a bold, visual pattern.
  • Create a simple stencil to make a frame around an inset shelf or niche.
  • Freshen up the frame of an old mirror.
  • Coat the inside of clear glass bottles, vases or jars with paint to make glossy, colorful decorative accessories.

DIY Paint Ideas: Disguise an Ugly Wood Floor With Paint

Replacing an old wood floor can be a time-consuming and expensive home project. If you don’t have the bandwidth or budget to refinish old wood floors, try updating them with paint. All you need are the right tools and a favorite paint color — and maybe a great pattern idea to create a custom design that will liven up any drab surface (see below for our favorite ideas for home).

Interior designers such as Illinois-based Jeannie Balsam like to use this paint trick for a custom look. She’s executed the technique in several spaces, including her own design studio.

“An inexpensive and easy update is to paint an old stairwell, treads, thresholds or trim with glossy floor paint,” says Balsam. “The space immediately feels fresh and modern. To add a little interest, you can also incorporate numbers or words on the treads.”

Whether you want to paint wood floors, stairs or trim, consider this DIY home décor project to give any surface a dose of personality.

Time: approximately three days

Materials:

Sanding sponge
Sponge
Painter’s tape
Paint roller
Paintbrush
Pencil
Ruler
Porch or floor paint
Polyurethane

Steps:

1. Give the wood floor surface some traction and even out rough spots by grazing over them with a sanding sponge. With a damp sponge, wipe away sanding residue and allow it to dry.

2. Tape off all the areas you want to protect from the paint, such as baseboards. With a paintbrush, begin by painting your base color a few inches around the perimeter of the painting area. With a roller, fill in the rest of the area. Let dry and paint another coat if needed. Let dry overnight.

Skip to step 6 if you’re painting a solid color. If you’re painting a pattern*, follow steps 3 through 5.

3. Measure and tape off your chosen design (remember to measure twice and paint once!). Using painter’s tape, mark the areas you don’t want to paint with an X. Next, rough up the areas to be painted with a sanding sponge. Then wipe away sanded areas and stray pencil marks with a damp sponge (a pencil eraser can damage the base coat). Let dry.

4. With a paintbrush, paint your pattern. Clean up any drips or spills right away with a damp sponge.

5. Before the paint dries, carefully peel away the tape from the floor at an angle.

6. Let paint dry for a day. Once the floor is fully dry, apply a coat of polyurethane with a paint roller to seal in the new design against heavy foot traffic.

*Brush These Patterns On for Size:

Preppy Stripes: Aside from a solid color, this idea requires the least amount of tape. Go broad and bold with two colors for a classic look. Or add funky texture to a kid’s playroom with skinnier strips of three or more colors.
Checks: Don’t think gingham or chessboard — unless that’s your intention. This pattern is about as versatile as it gets. Two-tone squares magically make everything else in a room seem more cohesive.
Faux Rug: Skip area rug hunting and bring on the double takes by painting one instead. Rather than tape off the whole floor, focus on one area of the room, or just leave a border of unpainted floor around the edges.

How to Paint Outdoor Pots

Potted flowers add interest and life both indoors and out, but you make them pop even more with this easy DIY paint idea. Here’s how to paint outdoor pots and add some extra charm to your flower displays.

Skill Level: Novice

Time: 24-48 hours (including primer, paint and polyurethane drying times)

Cost: Less than $50

TOOLS AND MATERIALS

  • Norcal 10-inch terracotta flower pot
  • Primer made for terracotta (or another appropriate primer, depending on the material of your pot)
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • 1-inch painter’s tape
  • Hobby knife
  • Paint brush
  • Artist’s brush
  • Exterior paint or project paint
  • Exterior water-based polyurethane (if using your pot outside)

 

Step No. 1
Prime the pot with a primer that is appropriate for the material of your pot. Follow the instructions on the primer container. Once the primer has dried, create a harlequin pattern on your pot. Draw the pattern in pencil using measuring tape, or you can purchase ready-made stencils in the paint department of your local home improvement or paint store.

 

Step No. 2
Tape off the lines with painter’s tape. Trim off the excess tape with a hobby knife.

 

Step No. 3
With a paintbrush, paint over the tape to create your diamond pattern. Don’t use too much paint, though, or it will bleed through the tape.

 

Step No. 4
Once the paint is dry, switch the tape to the outside of the pattern, and then fill it in with an artist’s brush.

Step No. 5
Simply remove the tape, touch up any imperfections and enjoy! If you plan to set the pot outside, seal it with water-based, exterior-grade polyurethane. Use two or three coats for extra protection.